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Reinventing the Financial System

By Marc Rubinstein | June 15, 2021 | 4 Comments

If you’re like me, you’ve been put off from digging deeper into DeFi by the terrible signal-to-noise ratio of anything crypto-related on the interwebs. That’s why I found this DeFi primer (using Maker DAO as a specific example) by ET contributor and banking analyst Marc Rubinstein to be so fantastic.

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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

From the ET Forum ...

Finished your holiday shopping? I hope so or else you’re out of luck. If you wait any longer you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Retailers around the world have announced their concern with inventory shortage and supply chain delays as we enter the most wonderful time of the year. Most people don’t start holiday shopping until at least September with most taking advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. This year that might be a problem.

Covid has already wreaked havoc on the supply chain. More people are ordering online instead of going to a store. So the shipping industry has received a massive burden it wasn’t ready to carry. New safety regulations also slow down both production and shipping. And that’s not counting labor shortages that add another spanner in the works. Of course we can’t forget about massive cargo boats getting stuck in canals. That certainly doesn’t help keep things moving.

It’s been like this for awhile, but things are about to get a lot worse.

Most American’s do the bulk of their holiday shopping in November and December. That’s what retailers have been training us to do for years. With special holiday savings events every other weekend, it’s the best time to find that PS5 on sale. These sales have always been … interesting. We all know Black Friday is pretty dang close to the Purge. This year could be less physical pain, more economic turmoil.

If people aren’t out at stores taking doorbusters a bit too literally, then they’ll be doing their shopping online. Imagine everyone who goes out for Black Friday. Double that number. That’s about how many people will be ordering online on that one day. It’ll be chaos.

News outlets have already started to report on our impending doom and you can expect to see more coverage as we get closer to holidays. I highly doubt the articles and segments will encourage people to refrain from buying. More likely the suggestion will be to buy early and expect your shipments to be late.

— Harper Hunt | November 05, 2021|

Pin The Blame On The Scapegoat

From the ET Forum ...

On October 21, there was a tragic shooting on the New Mexico set of the film Rust. The TL:DR is that Alec Baldwin accidentally fired a prop gun that had live ammunition inside. This resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured the director Joel Souza. That’s the basics of what happened. The full story is a bit more complicated.

The investigation is still ongoing, but recent facts have come out that paint a very damning picture. Rust was a film conceived of and produced by Baldwin. Now Baldwin has dabbled in producing since 1994, but hasn’t had any notable success. The project was low budget for modern Hollywood standards, and was considered an independent film. This meant they didn’t have a studio backing the project and instead funding came from individuals. And none of these individuals had much if any experience making movies.

This might explain why there was another big problem with the Rust production. There was a culture of complacency around firearms. Cast and crew would regularly take the prop guns, load them with live ammo, and shoot cans off set. Before October 21st, There were 3 accidental misfires where prop guns were thought to be empty. Several crew members complained to producers about the lack of gun safety.

To add another layer to this tragedy, most of the crew walked off set the day before the accident. I’ve written before about IATSE and their negotiations and possible strike. Well this is a clear example of what they were fighting for. Crew workers had to drive 50 miles to and from set every day. This is after spending 12-13 hours working in the harsh sun. The day of the shooting, members of IATSE packed up and left set. At least one producer forced them to leave. New non-union workers were brought on to replace them. 6 hours later Hutchins was shot.

Oh, and the Assistant Director who gave Baldwin the gun was fired from a set in 2019 after he mishandled a prop gun which misfired and injured someone.

As I said before, the investigation is still ongoing. Hutchins death was a tragedy and an accident. But it was a highly preventable one. And now everyone is scrambling to control the Narrative.

The New Mexico Governor is saying that if the film industry doesn’t set stricter regulations to ensure set safety, then the state will. IATSE is blaming the producers and non-union workers who were present. They called the replacement of union with non-union “inexcusable”. In response, the remaining producers have issued a statement that they were “in good standing with all major production unions and guilds”. Then you have the California State Senator calling for the ban of all live ammunition on theatrical productions.

Everyone is trying to add their own two cents and put their spin on it. Placing blame, deflecting blame, and trying to get their 15 minutes of fame. Because the cat’s out of the bag. Film sets are incredibly unsafe and people can die. Now it’s time to see what the investigation finds and which narrative spin comes out on top.

— Harper Hunt | October 29, 2021|

Second Chance

From the ET Forum ...

They made a deal! IATSE was able to reach an agreement with studios and networks just 24 hours before the strike would have gone into effect. Now the deal must be sent to IATSE members for approval. If the majority of IATSE members don’t vote in favor of ratification, the strike is back on. While IATSE was able to get better pay across the board and better working conditions, a lot of members feel it’s not enough.

Meanwhile. A strike did happen somewhere else. At John Deere, more than 10,000 employees walked out of 14 facilities. This is an active strike that’s been going on for over a week now. And I haven’t heard much about it. I’ve heard a lot about the IATSE negotiations from friends, trade journals, and main news coverage. And that was about a potential strike. I’m finding out about an actual strike a week after it started.

John Deere didn’t have missionaries to bring their strike to the public’s attention. IATSE had celebrities like Jane Fonda and Seth Rogen posting in favor of the negotiations. They used the full power of Hollywood to get mass attention. I know what the IATSE strike would involve. I know who would be affected, what they want, and what the ramifications would be. All this with very little effort on my part. I didn’t have to seek out much information and when I did there were dozens of media sources covering it. The John Deere workers don’t have that luxury.

Without a proper Missionary they are waiting for people to notice. And the only people who are, are people already affected by the strike. Most news outlets aren’t covering the story or aren’t giving it the same weight and attention IATSE got weeks before they entered negotiations. Without a face to put on the story, it just doesn’t get the same attention.

— Harper Hunt | October 21, 2021|

3 Strikes They’re Out

From the ET Forum ...

If you hadn’t heard about the potential IATSE strike allow me to catch you up to speed. IATSE is the much needed abbreviation for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. They’re the thousands of people who make movies and television. All those names in the credits, that’s them.

And they’ve had enough. The crew works horrible hours with no breaks. Imagine your call time to work was 6am. But you have to wake up at 4am to get there in time and set up. Then work continues non stop until 9pm. Go home, get some sleep, and do it all again the next day. That’s not counting overtime. And the pay is not worth it.

Now the IATSE is ready to strike. They’re looking for a few things. One is better pay that accurately reflects the work done for streaming services. Technically shows produced for streaming services like Hulu and Netflix don’t count as a series and workers don’t get the higher pay that entails. So Stranger Things and The Handmaiden’s Tale are TV enough to win Emmys, but not to pay their crew.

IATSE is in the sixth day of talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers right now. They hope to come to a resolution, but they also have picket signs ready. And if the strike does happen, Hollywood is in trouble.

Remember how all the movies and shows from 2008 were super delayed, short, and just really bad? That’s because of the writers strike. Now imagine if it’s not just the writers. It’s the lighting tech. The cinematographer. The grip. The boom mic guy. If they go on strike Hollywood is shut down.

The IATSE expects to reach an agreement within days. But just in case, don’t hold your breath for Season 2 of Emily in Paris.

— Harper Hunt | October 12, 2021|

Coming Soon to CBS

From the ET Forum ...

The Activist is an upcoming reality show that really shouldn’t have made it past the “there are no bad ideas” stage of development. It’s the most tone deaf, disconnected concept I’ve ever seen.

The basic idea is that the show will feature six activists from around the world and follow them as they “compete in missions, media stunts, digital campaigns and community events”. Think Shark Tank meets The Apprentice. Contestants will be judged on how much social media engagement they receive, and the grand prize is an opportunity to attend the G20 Summit in Rome.

Yeah.

Contestants will be judged not by quality of their work but by the quality of their Instagram captions.

The show and its marketing campaign present this very shallow idea of supporting activism and getting them mainstream attention. But the show isn’t prepared to follow through on helping create change. The prize isn’t money or manpower. It’s a chance to beg powerful people to pretend to care.

At its core, this show is not about activism and social change. It’s about social media attention. Just look at the judges! Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Julianne Hough have no experience in activism aside from Instagram posts and speaking at charity events. They’re not leaders of change. They’re mid-level celebrities who wouldn’t be out of place judging The Masked Singer.

The show has been justly lambasted on social media as literally everyone has a problem with the premise. It’s been called “performance activism personified” and it is. It’s encouraging participants and viewers to see activism not as something meant to enact change, but a way to get attention. It sets a standard that successful activism isn’t making change, it’s getting likes and views. It ignores the small, boring, and thankless work that is done on a grassroots level. The work we need to see more of.

We don’t need more beautiful people talking about how they use metal straws to save the sea turtles. We need more people who are willing to do the work. This show isn’t doing anything to help anyone and I, for one, will not be watching.

— Harper Hunt | September 16, 2021|

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Why Am I Reading This Now? 04.08.24

Recent major media stories that feel to us like they’re part of a larger narrativ‌e campaign.



Why Am I Reading This Now? 03.18.24

Recent major media stories that feel to us like they’re part of a larger narrativ‌e campaign.



Recent Notes

The Intentional Investor #6: Daniel Crosby

By Harper Hunt | June 11, 2024

In this episode of The Intentional Investor, we sit down with Daniel Crosby, a clinical psychologist turned behavioral finance expert and author of the upcoming book “The Soul of Wealth.” We explore Daniel’s fascinating journey from punk rock bassist to leading voice in the world of investing psychology, discussing the importance of setting healthy boundaries, letting life’s phases run their course, and the art of translating complex ideas into actionable insights. Join us as we dive into the power of narrative, the process of learning and unlearning, and the gift of being present in life’s heaviest moments, all while uncovering the parallels between Daniel’s work and our own mission to help people navigate the intersection of investing and life.

The Intentional Investor #5: Perth Tolle

By Harper Hunt | May 28, 2024

In this episode of The Intentional Investor, host Matt Zeigler interviews Perth Tolle, founder of the Freedom Index and Life + Liberty Indexes. Perth shares her remarkable journey from growing up in China to launching a freedom-weighted emerging markets ETF strategy, which recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. She discusses her experiences with personal and economic freedom, the importance of objective data in the investment process, and the challenges she faced in bringing her vision to life.

Breaking News #22: Israel, Meme Stocks and the Rising Risks Across the Globe

By Harper Hunt | May 23, 2024

Risks are rising on a variety of fronts across the world. And market players are positioning themselves to profit before they are realized. In this episode of Breaking News, we take a tour of some of the major issues we face in the current challenging environment. We discuss the peculiar announcement by Ireland, Norway, and Spain recognizing the Palestinian state, the potential for total war in the Middle East, Rick Rieder’s suggestion for interest rate cuts and the return of Roaring Kitty and the GameStop saga. We also cover President Biden’s questionable housing proposal, and the lessons we can learn from Conan O’Brien’s appearance on the YouTube show Hot Ones.

When You Destroy the Tools of Creativity

By Kyla Scanlon | May 14, 2024

We are in an age of tremendous uncertainty. Trust has evaporated. But agency, the individual expression of trust, has evaporated, too. 

Before we can rebuild trust in institutions, we have to start by rebuilding agency in ourselves. 

The Intentional Investor #4: Bogumil Baranowski

By Harper Hunt | May 14, 2024

In this episode of The Intentional Investor, host Matt Zeigler is joined by Bogumil Baranowski to discuss the power of investing with a multi-generational mindset. Baranowski shares his personal journey from growing up in communist Poland to discovering the transformative potential of free market economies and property rights. We also discuss the importance of viewing wealth as a tree that can be planted, nurtured, and enjoyed by future generations and explore the value of community, education, and personal experiences in shaping one’s perspective on investing and life.

How To Win At Story: Conan’s Hot Ones Masterclass

By Matt Zeigler | May 9, 2024

Please, let’s have a laugh at Conan on Hot Ones, but let’s also think this out together:

How do you win at story?

I’ve got 10 rules to try and help. And, using plenty of examples from the show, let’s see if we can’t get just a little bit better at the stories we tell ourselves too.  

Breaking News #21: Donald Trump and the Story the Media Isn’t Telling

By Harper Hunt | May 9, 2024

In this episode of Breaking News, we explore a range of topics, from the lack of media coverage surrounding the billions of dollars funneled to Donald Trump through his social media company, to the pervasiveness of gambling and speculation in our society. We discuss the embedded wage-price inflationary environment and its potential impact on our fragile, optimized systems. Additionally, we delve into the creative process behind Kelly Clarkson’s hit song “Since U Been Gone” and how it relates to the construction of pop stars, media stories, and political narratives.

The Story that Changes The World

By Tom_Morgan | May 1, 2024

The ‘monomyth’ or Hero’s Journey isn’t just a script for movies. It’s also the script of our society and our individual lives.

If we let it.

The Intentional Investor #3: Howard Lindzon

By Harper Hunt | April 30, 2024

In this episode of The Intentional Investor, host Matt Ziegler interviews Howard Lindzon, the founder and CEO of StockTwits. Lindzon shares his journey from aspiring comedian to stockbroker, entrepreneur, and investor, highlighting the importance of mentorship, tight networks, and adaptability in the ever-changing landscape of business and technology. The conversation covers Lindzon’s early investments in companies like Robinhood and eToro, the evolution of social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube, and the lessons he’s learned from navigating bull and bear markets.

Fidelity Reminds ETF Industry It Doesn’t Have To Care

By Dave Nadig | April 25, 2024

Free is a good price. It’s how we got Fortnite, and Radio, and a terrible internet. People hate paying for things.

That’s what Fidelity was counting on when they decided to make a stink about 9 ETF issuers not signing their revenue sharing deal.

And they’ll win. They always win.

Breaking News #20: Hot Ones and Phony Wars

By Harper Hunt | April 25, 2024

In this episode of Breaking News, we examine the recent situation with NPR and how it relates to the concept of Fiat News. We also delve into the current state of tensions between Iran and Israel and why we may see a ‘phony war” in the coming months. Additionally, we examine the underwhelming sales of Tesla’s Cybertruck and the broader decline of the EV narrative. We also have a dumb question about expansion of NATO and a Cultish Corner on Conan O’Brien’s masterful appearance on the show “Hot Ones”.

The Intentional Investor #2: Justin Castelli

By Harper Hunt | April 23, 2024

In this episode of the Intentional Investor, Matt Zeigler and Justin Castelli explore the intersection of life and investing, discussing the importance of aligning your financial plan with your personal values and vision. Justin shares his unique perspective on setting goals versus having a vision, emphasizing the significance of investing in experiences, relationships, and intellectual property rather than solely focusing on traditional financial metrics. The two discuss the role of financial advisors in helping clients live authentically and the potential for an abundance mindset within the financial system. Justin also touches on his aspirations to support others through creative ventures and the generational wisdom he hopes to pass down to his children.

Cursed Knowledge #28: Casual Gambling in Videogames

By Harper Hunt | April 18, 2024

Gambling is a big deal. And everyone’s got an opinion one way or another. It’s had a pretty insane increase over the last few years. But what happens when Gambling becomes gambling? When it stops being a grand event and is instead a much more insidious and, well, casual thing. Spoiler Alert. Nothing good. It’s now showing up everywhere. From sports, to finance, to politics, to videogames. It’s rarely obvious gambling, and that’s what we need to be worried about.

The Intentional Investor #1: Ben Hunt

By Harper Hunt | April 16, 2024

In this episode of The Intentional Investor, Matt Ziegler has a wide-ranging conversation with Ben Hunt, discussing Ben’s journey from academia to finance and the pivotal moments that shaped his career. Ben shares his lifelong fascination with games, puzzles, and cracking codes, which eventually led him to the world of investing. They delve into Ben’s experiences in academia, the lessons he learned from starting a software company, and his realization that fundamentals and value in investing are ultimately driven by narratives and game theory. Ben also discusses the genesis of Epsilon Theory, and his ongoing quest to find structure in unstructured data and stories. Throughout the conversation, they explore the interconnectedness of human, intellectual, social, and financial capital in shaping one’s life and career.

IT’S. ABOUT. THE. MONEY.

By Ben Hunt | April 11, 2024

If you were a smart guy like MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor and you thought a stagflationary tsunami of enormous proportion was going to wash over the US economy regardless of who wins in November, what would you be doing right now?

I think you might be doing whatever you can to get liquid in the global reserve currency without spooking the marks.

Breaking News #19: Number Go Up For November

By Harper Hunt | April 11, 2024

In this episode we discuss how the upcoming November election is shaping the current political and economic landscape. We discuss why inflation, the stock market and the war in the Middle East are all being viewed through a political lens as the election approaches and those with a vested interest seek to influence its outcome . We also discuss the prevalence of conspiracy theories, the erosion of trust in institutions, and the importance of curiosity in a left brain focused world.

I Think The Gun Helps

By Rusty Guinn | April 10, 2024

Our kids are being rewired.

The data implicating the smartphone-based childhood are compelling but not conclusive – and may never be.

So how should governments, communities, schools and families decide what to do?

Breaking News #18: The Rise of the Raccoons

By Harper Hunt | March 28, 2024

As anyone who has ever left their trash lid loose would know, raccoons have a tendency to come in and clean up the leftovers. And they make a huge mess while they do it. That isn’t the only place they exist, though. Raccoons also exist in the financial world, the self help world and a lot of other places. They come in and take what is leftover from what would otherwise be positive innovations and make a mess of them for their own benefit. In this episode, we take a detailed look at raccoons. We look at the tactics they use and how all of us can better spot them before they do their damage. We also discuss the danger of carved out inflation metrics, whether fundamental investing is dead, what steam boat operators have to do with finding your true self and a lot more.

Bitcoin Endgames & The New Hyper-Agents

By Dave Nadig | March 19, 2024

If the HODLers are right, they’re also the new Elites.

Not in a “my thumbdrive will make me the Duke of West Hartford in this post-apocalyptic hellscape” sort of way, but in ugly-but-mainstream scenarios with ugly-but-mainstream power/wealth transfers.

Breaking News #17: The Rise of Financial Nihilism

By Harper Hunt | March 14, 2024

Younger generations today feel like they don’t have a chance. Whether it be rising home prices or income and wealth inequality, they feel that they are starting with a significant disadvantage relative to older generations. One of the responses to this has been to resort to more aggressive gambling when it comes to their investments and their lives. Whether it be sports gambling or investing in riskier investments, some have sought to overcome their starting position by making risky bets. In this episode, we take a deep dive into this idea of financial nihilism and look at its real world implications. We also discuss Elon Musk’s treason allegations against Joe Biden and also look at the amazing behind the scenes story of the creation of the song “We Are the World.”